How to Propose a Budget Visually to a Client

A visual presentation can help you effectively communicate the budget to your client.
A visual presentation can help you effectively communicate the budget to your client. (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

A budget for a client’s project is a part of most work bids. The client should be able to easily understand where the money is going. When planning your budget you should have a profit margin and also allow for expenses that may be added. In your proposal and your actual presentation, you should visually display the budget so the client can understand it and ask questions about how the money is being spent. Visual references make it easier to process the numbers.

Prepare the budget proposal for your client by listing the expected cost of materials, labor, permits and insurance you will need for the job. The profit margin should be added to each category individually, meaning your client should not see what your profit margin is. A good budget should allow room for unexpected expenses. For example if a project takes a day longer to complete than you planned, it should already be included in the client’s budget. Be realistic when you set your numbers so you can make a profit.

Create a table or pie chart to divide the different budget categories into a visual the client will understand. You can use a spreadsheet such as Excel or Numbers to plug in the budget categories and the amounts to create the pie chart or table for your budget. This pie chart or table can be in the proposal packet, but it can also be blown up as part of a display in a presentation.

Break down the budget into categories and then create a chart that lists the budget category and all the items it would include. For example, in the category of building costs you would list materials, labor and any permits you would need to get. Another example for a marketing budget may include advertising and breaking it down into television ads, radio ads and print ads. You can further break down these categories and show how much will go into each section of the budget.

Display the budget to the client during the presentation. In addition to a big display board or overhead slide you should have the budget pie chart and smaller budget charts in a packet of information for the client to refer to. This allows the client to make notes and examine the information you are presenting.

Explain the budget breakdown to your client. Allow your client to ask questions about how the money will be used, and have specifics in place. For example if the budget is for a planned conference you will want to have the cost of facility rental at a specific location and have a few different locations for them to choose from.

Tips & Warnings

  • The key to successfully presenting the budget is to find the balance in the details you give to your client and your ability to answer questions. You will want specific budget amounts in concrete things like equipment rentals or room bookings, but decorations or supplies can be lumped together to include everything in one number.

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